Facebook Face Time OK

November 20, 2008 1 min read

Teens and children may not be wasting their time on social networking sites after all, according to a recent study from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Though young people aren’t learning the quadratic equation or the cause of the Civil War from sites like Facebook and Myspace, researchers found that they are “picking up the basic social and technical skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society,” reports news Web site DailyMe.

“It is not a waste of time for teens to hang out online,” Mizuko Ito, the lead researcher for the 3-year, $3.3 million study, told the site. She said that kids are using the Internet to become “competent citizens in the digital age.”

What that means, according to the study, is that kids are using the hours they spend on social networking sites to develop existing friendships, acquire technical skills, and learn Web 2.0 skills from each other. With all those benefits, parents might rethink the limitations they set on their children’s computer use in efforts to wrench them from the glare of the screen.

“It’s not just about stranger danger and predators. We need to have conversations about concrete strategies and practices” to help kids set priorities when online, Ito said. “Simply banning them (from the computer) is not going to help.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.